In today’s world of ever changing landscape for the retail industry, many brick-and-mortar retailers are challenged with how to attract and retain customers. With all of the personalization and customization customers are get with the online version of retail, it can be challenging for a brick-and-mortar retailer to figure out how to deliver a similar type of experience for the customers that cross the threshold of their store. The secret lies in people.
The interaction customers have with the sales team, and any employee they encounter that represents your store, will create either a positive, negative, or neutral experience. Every retailer’s goal, of course, is to create as many positive, memorable experiences as possible for their customers. A retailer can have the best product or services, at the best prices, in the precise options that customers want, but if the experience the customer has while engaging with the employees is less than pleasant, the customer will most likely choose not to purchase, and worse yet, tell everyone who will listen about their poor experience.
Training the sales team in how to deliver an exceptional experience for customers needs to be an on-going priority for every retailer. There is an easy acronym to help your sales staff remember 5 simple steps to deliver a customized and personalized experience for each and every person that comes into your store. The acronym is BLOOM.
B – BE AUTHENTIC. The sales associate’s job is first and foremost to assist customers to find whatever it is they want or need. This must be the sales associate’s top priority because customers will pick up on selling behaviors that are inconsistent with their own wants and needs If the sales team isn’t genuinely focused on helping customers, the customers will feel it. Encourage your sales team to speak with customers politely and professionally, but also with as much of their own personality as appropriate and possible. Let them be genuine and authentic. This is the best way to build rapport with customers which will hopefully lead to a positive feeling that the customers will attribute to your brand, store, company.
L – LISTEN. It is so important for your sales team to listen to what the customers’ wants and needs are. If a car sales person is serving a father who expressed he is looking for basic transportation, nothing fancy, for his college-aged student, and the sales person takes him to a snazzy sports car, the father is going to realize this sales person has not listened to him at all, or worse, is trying to sell him something he doesn’t want or need.
Sales associates need to have good listening skills. We communicate with words, but most of the messages we send and receive, are from non-verbal cues. Our body language, how fast or slow we speak, whether or not we make eye contact, how we use our hands are all examples of non-verbal cues that can help sales associates determine what a customer needs and how to help them.
O – OFFER. Once the sales associate has learned what it is the customer wants and needs the next step is to offer their expertise by offer the products and services that meet those wants and needs. This requires good product knowledge. Your sales team must have training in the various products and/or services offered in your store. Solid product training enables the sales team to confidently and knowledgeably help the customer select items that will meet their specific wants and needs.
O – OPTIMIZE. Once the customer has their selection narrowed down to whatever it is they are purchasing, the next step is to optimize their purchase. This means offering items that compliment whatever they have selected. If the customer was buying a home office printer, you would want to be sure to offer them the opportunity to purchase additional cartridges of ink/toner and copy paper. Encourage your sales team to think how they would feel if they were to get their purchase home and realize they were missing important additional items that they needed in order to make the purchase complete.
M – MAKE THEIR DAY. Make their day by including something that will surprise and delight your customer. It is just that little extra something to make their purchase experience memorable. When you deliver a memorable experience to your customers they are going to tell their friends, and they will be back because of that great experience. What is the little extra something you can offer your customers that really makes your store stand out? That little extra something is what makes all the difference, especially in this age of technology where everything is instant gratification.
Brick-and-mortar retailers have a competitive advantage to make the customers’ experience so memorable and positive they will never forget how you made them feel. That is the secret weapon in today’s competitive retail landscape.
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